iMirabilis2: Meet the team
iMirabilis2 involves a large team of people who all bring different skills and expertise to the mission. Find out more below!
Cova Orejas, Instituto Español de Oceanografia
Covadonga (Cova) Orejas is senior researcher at the Centro Oceanográfico de Gijón (IEO, CSIC) in Asturias, the green coast of Spain! She is interested in the ecology of benthic communities, particularly the vulnerable marine ecosystems dominated by cold water corals. Her research focus is the spatial distribution of these organisms, as well as their biology, ecology and ecophysiology, applying non-intrusive sampling methodologies (ROVs, underwater imaging) and performing aquaria experiments in the lab. Together with Andrew Sweetmann from Herriot-Watt University and Veerle Huvenne from the National Oceanographic Centre, she is leading the iMirabilis2 expedition.
“Research expeditions devoted to the exploration of new areas are just fantastic! This is one of those cases, as we will explore deep areas offshore Cabo Verde, places where no one has been before! We will discover new deep-sea benthic habitats, getting insight into the diversity they harbour as well as in the role they play in the whole ecosystem. A large array of equipment on board the great research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa will help us to accomplish the ambitious scientific aims of iMirabilis2, which has been planned and organised under unusual circumstances of Covid-19. The great scientific and technical team we have on board iMirabilis2 will make it possible to gain new insight into the mysteries of the oceanography and ecology of the Cabo Verde deep-sea areas and to transfer these new discoveries to a range of audiences back on land. I am very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to lead this cruise within iAtlantic and with the support of the Spanish Government.”
Veerle Huvenne, National Oceanography Centre, UK
Veerle is Principal Researcher at the National Oceanography Centre, UK, where she coordinates the Seafloor & Habitat Mapping team. She has >20 years of experience in the fields of habitat mapping and sediment dynamics, aiming to develop an understanding of complex deep-sea environments. Veerle has extensive expertise working with new technologies and marine robotic systems such as AUVs and ROVs, and often works closely with the engineering teams on the development of new sensor or vehicle capabilities.
Veerle joins the iMirabilis expedition as co-chief scientist, and will help Cova and Andrew with planning the operations on board. She will take particular responsibility for the mapping work, using both the ship-board echosounders and the AUV with its new eDNA sampler. She will also contribute to the ROV work. After the expedition, Veerle hopes to work with the teams within NOC and iAtlantic to develop habitat maps at different spatial scales of the Cabo Verde seabed.
Andrew Sweetman, Heriot-Watt University, UK
Andrew is a professor and deep-sea ecologist at the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University. He is an expert on seafloor biodiversity and ecology and has a strong focus on the impact of anthropogenic stressors on shallow and deep-sea benthic ecosystems. During iMirabilis2 he will be co-leading the cruise with Cova and Veerle and in charge of the work involving the benthic landers, which will collect data to assess the benthic and pelagic biodiversity in the Cabo Verde region, and test how deep-sea benthic ecosystems are functioning naturally in an oligotrophic (nutrient poor, oxygen rich) environment, and when exposed to climate change stressors.
Murray Roberts, University of Edinburgh, UK
Murray is the iAtlantic Coordinator and Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences where he leads the Changing Oceans research group. His research on cold-water corals and deep-sea biology has taken him to sites off the UK, Norway, Ireland and the SE United States in order to advance understanding of the biology and ecology of cold-water corals and provide the information needed for their long-term management and conservation. Murray has led or participated in 23 offshore research cruises, and joins the science team aboard iMirabilis2 to provide expertise in benthic ecology.
Andrea Gori, University of Barcelona, Spain
I am associate professor in marine ecology at the University of Barcelona. My research focuses on the study of the diversity, ecology, ecophysiology and conservation of mesophotic and deep vulnerable marine ecosystems dominated by corals and gorgonians, to provide understanding for the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems. In iMirabilis2, I will contribute in the quantitative video exploration of benthic communities, and perform onboard short-term experiments on coral ecophysiology.
Kelsey Archer Barnhill, University of Edinburgh, UK
Kelsey made the dive to Deep Sea Ecology for her PhD after researching tropical corals for her Masters in Tropical Ecology and Management of Natural Resources at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. A member of University of Edinburgh’s Changing Oceans Research Group, Kelsey is an iAtlantic Fellow, One Ocean Hub Early Career Researcher, and the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassador for the UK. Her research focuses on multiple stressor impacts on the habitat-building cold-water coral, Lophelia pertusa. This will be Kelsey’s fourth cruise and she is excited to be sailing on both legs of iMirabilis2 as the on-board outreach liaison and a member of the science team.
Beatriz Vinha, Instituto Español de Oceanografia
Bea is a marine biologist and currently a first year PhD student with a special interest in deep-sea benthic megafauna. The iMirabilis2 expedition is hugely important for the work she will carry out during her PhD! With the video collected by the ROV Luso, she aims to characterise and quantify, for the first time, the deep-sea megabenthic communities of Cabo Verde in terms of biodiversity and spatial distribution patterns. Bea will also collect samples to investigate the trophic ecology of the Cabo Verde benthic habitat through stable isotopes and fatty acid analysis.
Danielle De Jonge, Heriot-Watt University, UK
Danielle obtained her MSc in Marine Biology from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and now works as a PhD researcher in the Deep-Sea Ecology and Biogeochemistry research group at Heriot-Watt University. As iAtlantic fellow she is studying soft-sediment ecosystem function with autonomous seafloor landers, studying respiration rates, nutrient cycling, scavenging activity, and food-web dynamics. Additionally, she’s involved in an experiment to study soft-sediment ecosystem functioning under future climate scenarios.
Angela Mosquera, Instituto Español de Oceanografia
I am a marine scientist and I am currently working as physical oceanographer in the Spanish Institute of Oceanography at the Canary Islands Center. During iMirabilis2 I will use the CTD measurements to determine the hydrographical properties of the waters around Cabo Verde
Susan Evans, National Oceanography Centre, UK
Susan is postdoctoral researcher in the Ocean Technology and Engineering Group at the National Oceanography Centre, UK where she works on the development of biogenomic sensing and sampling technology. During the iMirabilis2 expedition she will take care of the autonomous eDNA sampler called RoCSI recently developed at NOC, which will be deployed in a deep-diving autonomous underwater vehicle for the first time.
Alyica Smith, Heriot-Watt University, UK
Alycia is a first-year PhD Student at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Previously, she studied an Integrated Master’s degree in Marine Biology at the University of Southampton. Her research focuses on gathering baseline data for an area of the deep seafloor earmarked for polymetallic mining in the future. This data will be used to help understand the impacts mining activities may have on benthic ecosystem functioning and the services provided by them. She will be joining iMirabilis2 as part of the HWU benthic lander team, helping to deploy, recover and process the respirometer, baited camera and baited trap landers.
Antonio Calado, EMEPC, Portugal
Antonio is the ROV Luso project coordinator at EMEPC (Portuguese Task Group for the Extension Of the Continental Shelf), and is also responsible for the offshore scientific operations at this institution. Antonio is a ROV Pilot Supervisor and has worked at EMEPC since the beginning of the ROV project in 2005. He participates annually in several oceanographic campaigns focused mainly on deep sea environment, led by EMEPC or by partner entities, and coordinates the operational part of most of these campaigns. He has spent more than 500 days at sea since 2007!
Bruno Ramos, EMEPC, Portugal
I have a degree in electrical engineering and since 2014 I have been working at EMEPC (Task Group for the Extension of the Continental Shelf), where I work as a ROV pilot. In this campaign I will be at ROV operations as pilot and its daily maintenance.
Nuno Vasco Rodrigues, freelance photographer
Nuno Vasco Rodrigues is a marine biologist with a master’s degree in Integrated Ocean Studies. He has been involved in several marine conservation projects and participated in a large number of scientific expeditions, which provided him with a deep knowledge of marine life. He is the author of dozens of scientific articles and 3 books on marine fauna, having contributed to many others. As a photographer, he specialises in marine conservation, using the image as a study and communication tool, aiming at conservation. His images have been widely published in books, newspapers and magazines and also exhibited worldwide, with several of them having been awarded in international competitions.
Renato Bettencourt, IMAR, Portugal
Renato Bettencourt has worked at IMAR – Portuguese Institute for Marine Research – since 2006 as Senior ROV Pilot, gaining lots of experience in multiple tasks involving maintenance and repair of systems. He collaborates with EMEPC and with the ROV pilot team since 2010, performing multiple tasks involving hydraulics, system mechanics and operations planning, with a total of 102 hours of operating experience and a total of 290 sea days. He also collaborates as Technician/Operator of the Hyperbaric Medical Treatment System of the Public Hospital of Horta where he has about 700 hours of experience.
Iván Casal, CSIC-UTM, Spain
I have been in the Marine Technology Unit since 2010. I belong to the department of mechanics, rigging and deck operations. During the iMirabilis2 expedition I am in charge of the sediment sampling operations using the multicorer, Van Veen dredge and box corer, and I look after the Ibercisa winches installed on the ship for these operations.
Iván Mouzo, CSIC-UTM, Spain
I am an electronic technician and I’m currently studying computer science. I work in the equipment deployment team of UTM. I’ll be in charge of deploying and maintaining the CTD, the meteorological station and the underway seawater sensors, ensuring all sensors and data are correct.
Mario Sanchez, CSIC-UTM, Spain
I have been working at the UTM since 2006 in the mechanical engineering department. During this expedition I will be in charge of collecting sediment samples from the seabed, and looking after deck operations.
Roger Mocholi Segura, CSIC-UTM, Spain
I am an IT technician from UTM and I will be responsible for the ship’s communications and all its computer equipment, as well as monitoring of the data collected by the ship’s sensors and its correct storage and delivery to our headquarters in Barcelona.
Miguel Souto, EMEPC, Portugal
I have a degree in Oceanography and a specialisation in hydrography. I have worked at EMEPC since 2008, specifically in the ROV project. Besides piloting the ROV, the focus of my work is to maintain the informatics, and ensuring the integrating of different systems between the ship and the ROV.
Herculano Dinis, Projecto Vito, Cabo Verde
I have a degree in Biology and I am the Executive Director of the Projecto Vito Association. Projecto Vitó is one of the largest environmental NGOs in Cabo Verde working in the conservation of marine and coastal resources.
Nadito Jesus Pina Barbosa, Projecto Vito, Cabo Verde
I have a degree in Biological and Environmental Sciences and I am coordinator of the Cape Verde seabirds project in Fogo Island at the Projecto Vito Association. Projecto Vitó is an environmental NGO from Cape Verde that works on the conservation of marine and coastal resources.
Carlos Carles Arabella
I’m a self-employed biologist working as an ornithologist, conservationist and naturalist. I will be working in the seabird observation team on Leg 0. Our task on board will be focused on the census of oceanic birds like shearwaters and petrels, but we will enjoy watching any other animal (whales, turtles, fishes… are welcome too). I hope we will have very good weather to do that. And, honestly, we will take lots of pictures, for sure!
Richard Austin-Berry, National Oceanography Centre, UK
I recently graduated with a BEng and an award for Top Student. I aim to be recognised in publications as a Pioneer of Oceanographic Engineering. In my spare time I am the frontman of a rock band, skateboard almost everyday, and I’m father to my best friend Phoenix who will be 8 months old when I fly out to join iMirabilis2. During the cruise I’ll be operating the LARS for deployment and recovery of Autosub6000, and servicing the AUV after each dive – keeping it primed for science!
Stewart Fairbairn, National Oceanography Centre, UK
Hello, I’ve recently moved from Edinburgh to Southampton to be part of the National Oceanography Centre as an Electronics Engineer. I’m fairly new to the team so this is my first expedition but I love all things to do with the ocean and I’ve spent quite a lot of time on boats as a scuba diver in Scotland so I think I will manage fine. Famous last words…
I’m the electronics engineer in the Autosub 6000 operations team and will be responsible for managing the electronics within the submarine. As a team we will be programming Autosub 6000 with missions, launching and recovering her, and downloading the data she captures for the scientists.
Daniel Roper, National Oceanography Centre, UK
Daniel was certified by the UK MCA as STCW engineering Officer of the watch in 2010, and awarded a PhD in 2013 for his research on gait control for under actuator robotic fish from Plymouth University. He joined the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in 2014 where he has worked in both system development and field operation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). In 2019 Daniel took up the role of Engineering Manager for the NOC AUV Operations team, and he will lead the AUV operations team during iMirabilis2.
Erik Lledo, National Oceanography Centre, UK
My work aims to understand the environmental and anthropogenic drivers of temporal and spatial change in deep-sea benthic ecosystems. My research has focused on the application of novel seabed imaging methods in the fields of community ecology, biogeography, habitat mapping and environmental impact from industrial activities. During iMirabilis2 I will aid in the survey design, collection, and post-processing of seabed imagery for biological assessment using Autosub6000.
Andreia Afonso, EMEPC, Portugal
I have a degree in Marine Sciences, specialised in the field of Physical Oceanography. Since 2008, I have been working at EMEPC (Task Group for the Extension of the Continental Shelf), where I received ROV pilot and engineer training and integrated the 6000m rated ROV LUSO technical team. I have participated in approximately 21 multidisciplinary missions, half in the scope of the Continental Shelf Extension Project involving deep sea research. I am very interested and motivated by the conceptualisation, development and implementation of new sea technologies and tools. In this campaign I will be at ROV operations, from piloting to launch and recovering, including flying and sampling using ROV instruments. I will maintain and fix this equipment in a daily basis.
Dominique M J Anderson, Heriot-Watt University, UKOriginally from the west coast of Canada, I have been living in Scotland permanently since 2010. I am currently in the first year of my PhD at Heriot Watt University. My research investigates the potential ecotoxicological impacts associated with deep-sea mining through field and laboratory experiments to assess responses at different levels of biological organisation. On the iMirabilis2 cruise I will be supporting the benthic lander team from HWU, capturing baseline information on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, while taking the opportunity to collect samples to provide a baseline for tissue metal concentrations in key deep-sea benthic organisms, including fish and amphipods.
Miguel Hernandez Rosas, Instituto Español de Oceanografia
I have a background in marine science but I have been focused on project management since 2010, working with private companies and research institutes in research, development and innovation projects. Currently I am as project manager in the IEO-CSIC team involved in iAtlantic and one of my roles is to help in the organisation of iMiarbilis2, supporting the scientific team. This is my first time involved in such an important expedition and I am very excited about the expedition as this is a great and challenging experience. For me it is an opportunity to develop my professional skills and I am also eager to know the expedition findings.
Irene Perez Rodriguez, Instituto Español de Oceanografia
I am marine geologist with an interest in mapping, micropalaeontology and palaeoceanography. I work at the Instituto Español de Oceanografía, studying foramininifera and as a GIS specialist. I am helping to plan the iMirabilis2 expedition, contributing with a GIS of the Cape Verde area, which contains the sampling locations of the expedition, as well as sea bed information generated in previous cruises. I am also helping to organise the sediment sampling that will take on board. It is very thrilling to take part in the preparation of this cruise, which uses the latest marine robotics and imaging technology to explore the deep ocean and understand the impacts of the current global warming.